Melbourne – Izakaya Den

Saucy Onion is in Melbourne for the Writers Festival. I’m hosting the In Conversation session with Matthew Evans about his brilliant new cookbook The Real Food Companion and taking part in a panel discussion (As Good As A Feast) on the proliferation of cooking books and cooking shows – not to mention food blogs – and whether this has brought us closer to our food or not.
I’m grabbing a quick lunch at the Izakaya Den near the corner of Russell and Collins St.
And it certainly is a den – a low-key entrance that’s easy to miss, concrete stairs that lead to a door, through a mysterious curtain and into this industrial basement space.

Izakaya Den is run by the same posse that owns one of my other favourite Melbourne haunts Verge

It’s loosely based on the traditional Japanese Izakaya eating house which serves sake with little nibbles.

The menu is cleverly projected onto the wall.
I choose the lunch set menu and start with some housemade tofu. Silky and clean nutty flavours.
Can’t resist an accompanying glass of Moorooduc Blanc (chardonnay/pinot gris) from Mornington Peninsula
Next come the pickled vegetables and green leaf salad

Exquisitely prepared

Bandana-wearing chefs prepare dishes with quiet efficiency. No ego here. 

The main course is a fresh meaty chunk of Blue-eye fillet baked with shitake mushrooms, and some rice and ginger miso soup.
With so many restaurants trying to out foam, air, soil and vaporise eash other it is such a breath of fresh air to eat real food.
The Izakya Den is a small understated refuge for those who want clean, fresh flavours served in a calming environment.
grab a number……

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